Sunday, August 07, 2022

An Author Affronted

The World of Shaft author Steve Aldous reminds us it was 50 years ago today that Shaft’s Big Score!, Ernest Tidyman’s novelization of his screenplay for the 1972 movie of that same title, reached print. But it “nearly wasn’t published at all,” he writes, adding:
Production of the film had run from January to April 1972 and it was intended the paperback adaptation be published in May ahead of the film’s release.

However, a disagreement over royalties between Tidyman and MGM (who had determined the split) along with his partners in Shaft Productions (who claimed others were also involved with screenplay development), led to the paperback release being postponed and it seemed the book may never be published. “MGM let it be known they wanted 25% of the royalties,” said Tidyman, “and my partners said they wanted a slice. I insisted no one was to get a piece of any novel, [n]or would I let anyone do a novelization of my Shaft character. He’s a valuable entity—he’s been bastardized in films.” ...

Tidyman informed
The Pittsburgh Press: “I told them I would tear up the book, which represented six months’ hard work, and give the publisher back the money rather than give MGM money it had not earned nor in any way contributed to. I startled the hell out of them. They never heard of a writer who would give back money or tear up a book because of a principle. They were very upset.”
Read about how this squabble concluded in Aldous’ full post.

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